UPDATE: I recently ran across an article discussing a pre-war Topeka Hiway mower built from Ford truck parts: http://www.farmcollector.com/tractors/mowing-tractor-zmbz14octzkel.aspx I haven’t looked any deeper into this information.
One source argues that the Topeka Hiway Mowers were built by ‘Shorty’ Meinhardt, who founded Meinholt Machine and Welding in Topeka Kansas. Shorty’s grandson Dean Fechter now runs the business. According to Meinhardt’s cousin, the first mower they built rolled over and broke Shorty’s back. But, that didn’t stop them from building more tractors.
Yet, according to at least one data plate, the Topeka Hiway mower was produced out of Irwindale, California, a product of the American Hoist & Derrick Company. Can anyone clear up the discrepancy between producers of the mower?
According to Marty Henson in 2009 there were three versions of the mower:
I have kept records of all of the people I know who have these mowers and information about the style, age and attachments. So far I have found three distinct styles. The oldest style appears to date to the late 1930s and uses Ford-style sheet metal and running gear. Examples are owned by collectors near Seattle, Wash., and Hartsville, Tenn.
The second style closely follows a CJ Willys/Jeep and uses a Continental 4-cylinder flathead engine, 3- or 4-speed transmission, and Dana 18 transfer case. The mower attachments on these were either a sickle bar or rotary. I think later mowers of this style included a windshield. I have found two examples of the later style Topeka Hi Way mower. One was recently sold by the Montana Highway Dept., and the other is in Lyons, Colo.
Most, if not all, of the mowers were painted yellow. To date, I have recorded the names and addresses of 11 owners in eight states. Just today I added two more contacts. By including my previous letter in your magazine, you have generated many of my contacts. I’d like to receive information from your readers about anyone who has one of these mowers or knows where one might be found. Thank you for producing such a wonderful magazine and assisting me in researching the Topeka Hi Way mower.
Here are some examples of the jeep version of the Topeka Mower:
This was for sale in December of 2014:
This one was for sale on eBay in Ohio in 2009 (see more pics here):
This one was for sale in Baker City, Oregon, in 2010 for $400.
Here’s an orange one:
From the CJ-3B Page. There’s a second pic here with the windshield up.
Here’s a fancy one from the Antique Tractors Page
- Farm Collector Magazine
- My Tractor Forum
- Lesser known tractors
- CJ-3B Page
- Here’s a tractor called a Topeka, but looks different
- 1960 article about Topeka Mower
- Partial article from 1959